These days it’s not surprising to find big name brands like Inditex or Mercedes-Benz throwing their support behind promising new talent in the world of fashion design. For the last few years, Samsung has also gotten on the bandwagon by sponsoring fashion competitions and events, catwalks on the international scene as well as prestigious awards. Look no further than the Samsung EGO Innovation Project from the recent SAMSUNG EGO show, won by Leandro Cano, and, more recently, International Talent Support.
In this year’s ITS, one of the awards was for the best accessory for a Samsung product, the Samsung Galaxy Award. It involved finalists from different categories, previously selected by Samsung, creating cases for the Galaxy Tab S that captured the essence of the brand and stood out both for its design and usability. The winner was Leonie Barth a fashion designer we’ve recently found ourselves drawn to.
Leonie Barth, 26, is from Germany and works mainly in clothing design. It was almost a coincidence that won her the Samsung prize with her design of a case-purse-backpack for the tablet that is at once elegant, functional and youthful. This was what got us hooked and after looking into her other work, we found minimalist, avant-garde, designs uniquely styled with mirrors that made us want to know more about her and what was behind the singular looks.
So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins was able to spend some time with her recently and reflect on her work.
SO CATCHY!: Leonie, congratulations on your recent success. How does it feel?
LEONIE BARTH: Oh wow! It’s still an overwhelming feeling!
SC!: What did Samsung say about their reasons behind choosing your design for the Galaxy Tab S?
LB: They told me that the award has been assigned to me because my design provided the perfect blend of aesthetics, quality and creativity while capturing Samsung’s brand essence and enhancing the usability of the Galaxy Tab S. The Jury liked the simple, minimalistic, fashionable design.
SC!: Why did you decide to participate in the accessories category when you mainly design clothing?
LB: To be honest, I didn’t plan to take part in this Samsung contest. The Samsung team chose 10 candidates from all the ITS finalists in all fields and then I got a call from ITS where they told me that I am one of the selected and they asked if I would like to do this project for Samsung. And of course I said yes- Samsung is a global leader and to design an accessory for them is definitely a big honor.
SC!: What are you going to do with the prize?
LB: Well, now I can pay back a part of my debts from my studies.
SC!: Amongst the winners of ITS this year, who is your favorite?
LB: There’s no favorite! We all did a great job. I was really impressed by the high standard of all the finalists and it was an amazing experience to get to know all of them in person and to spend time with like-minded people.
SC!: Why did you decide to study fashion?
LB: I have always been fascinated by design and being creative. Moreover, I have been always interested in the human being, in philosophy and social sciences. I love to observe people, how they dress and how they behave. I chose to focus on fashion because we communicate identity and social position primarily by means of our clothing. We are visual and social entities so we need to communicate not only by voice but also by sight.
SC!: What part of your work do you enjoy most?
LB: The moment when you’re starting to combine concept and garments into something that really works. And the feeling when you’ve finished a piece of clothing and it looks like you expected. Besides that, it’s really cool to work in a well-organized team of close friends. During my time in the Master’s, I worked together with an amazing photographer and a graphic designer, Lucie Marsmann and Alexander Katchko, who really did a great job. We developed editorial concepts and layouts together, had a lot of busy nights and days and although it was a stressful time, it was fun and very inspiring.
SC!: Are you working now?
LB: At the moment I’m applying for my first job and hope to get employment for next season. It’s time to improve my practical knowledge. I’d like to prove myself as a junior designer and to gain some more experience on a team. I feel ready for a new adventure somewhere in Europe – maybe London, Paris or Italy? Who knows? There are several amazing labels I’d like to work for.
SC!: Do you have to look for inspiration or does it come to you?
LB: Inspiration is everywhere- it can be an interesting documentary on TV, architecture, art, a good book, a movie, an impressive personality… and sometimes it’s just one sentence.
SC!: We love your Ich ist ein Anderer (I is an other) collection, the symmetry, the textures, the simplicity, and the way it’s put together. Tell us about it.
LB: In January 2014 I finished my Master’s studies with this collection. For me, this work was something really personal. I did a lot of research, wrote a 100-page master’s thesis that deals with the question of personal identity and in which context the outer appearance matter for our personal development. I read Sartre, Lacan and Freud, watched movies like Cocteau’s Orpheé and did more research on artists who are dealing with perception like Olafur Elliasson, Anish Kapoor and Julius von Bismarck. The result of all this input is my personal point of view, my interpretation of reflection and identity. My key assumption is that identity does not exist without a visible surface and its reflection. “Mirroring” ourselves is imperative to construct our own identity. I just tried to create a look that contains this really theoretical idea and to develop a collection that is totally me, something I am really convinced of. This signature is a minimalist and pure style, always with a little wink. My work is a mixture of conceptual, experimental and wearable clothing.
SC!: It’s clear that you pay close attention to the accessories. The hats and masks that you used in Ich ist ein Anderer, for example, did you make them?
LB: I would say, I like a good, styled look- and this doesn’t only imply garments but also strong accessories. All of the hats, masks, shoes, mirror pieces, and bracelets were made by me.
SC!: Which designers do you look to for inspiration?
LB: There are a lot of designers that impress me, definitely Margiela and Chalayan because of their conceptual work, and then there are also Jil Sander and Stella McCartney with their perfect minimalist creations! And of course, my former boss, Bruno Pieters. He’s an amazing designer and he still inspires me a lot.
SC!: Are there any up-and-coming designers you like?
SC!: You can’t live without…
LB: My family and friends, my sewing machine & my laptop.
SC!: You can’t stop wearing…
SC!: Are there any online publications that you like and that provide some sort of inspiration?
SC!: Where do you sell your products?
LB: I’m selling my former collections at a designer store called “Designers for today” which is based in Leipzig. My current collection is presented at NOT JUST A LABEL. Some garments of this collection can be individually produced and are available on request.
SC!: Anything you dream about?
LB: To beam myself anywhere I want within seconds!
Photography: Lucie Marsmann
Models: Laura Muller, Lena quibeldey, Rosa Kobusch
Make-up & Hair: Ann Kristin Schmees
Styling: Leonie Barth
Samsung Tablet Backpack photographs
Photography: Lucie Marsmann
Model: Laura Muller
Styling: Leonie Barth
Layout and Translation by Michael Padilla
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